Albert Pujols leads the way in Game 2 blowout win over Brewers

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Albert Pujols didn’t do everything for the Cardinals tonight, but it sure seemed like it at times.

Pujols went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, three doubles, five RBI and three runs scored in a 12-3 win over the Brewers in Game 2 of the NLCS, tying the series at 1-1. As part of a 17-hit attack by the Cardinals, David Freese homered for the second straight game while Jon Jay added three hits and Nick Punto chipped in with a pair of RBI singles.

Pujols is just the fourth player in postseason history to have four extra-base hits in the same game. The others:

Hideki Matsui: NYY vs. BOS – 2004 ALCS Game 3 (won 19-8)
Bob Robertson: PIT at SFG – 1971 NLCS Game 2 (won 9-4)
Frank Isbell: CWS vs. CHC – 1906 WS Game 5 (won 8-6)

Just icing on the cake, Pujols is the first player with four hits, four RBI and 10 total bases in an NLCS game since former Giants’ first baseman Will Clark in 1989 against the Cubs. Pujols now has 14 home runs and 42 RBI in his postseason career, passing former center fielder Jim Edmonds for the franchise record.

Shaun Marcum was smoked for five runs on seven hits over four innings in Monday’s loss. He has allowed 12 runs over 8 2/3 innings during the postseason, good enough for an ugly 11.25 ERA.

While this game ended up being a laugher, the Brewers actually had a chance to make things interesting in the fifth inning. After Edwin Jackson was chased from the game with the score 7-2, Rickie Weeks came up to the plate with the bases loaded against right-hander Lance Lynn. He hit into what was seemingly a rally-killing double-play to end the inning, however, it was clearly a blown call by first base umpire Sam Holbrook. The Cardinals poured it on offensively from there, including a four-run seventh inning, but this may have been a different ballgame if he made the right call.

Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder both homered in a losing cause for the Brewers while Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a double. Braun is batting .500 (13-for-26) during the postseason.

The series will now turn to St. Louis on Wednesday night, when Chris Carpenter takes on Yovani Gallardo.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.